Three charged with 145 counts of providing alcohol to minors at busted party
BY STAFF REPORTER
AND , SENIOR REPORTER
While walking down Continental Avenue last Saturday, a panicked girl approached senior Danna Kaplan. “Turn around,” she said. “No seriously, turn around.”
She proceeded to tell her that there dozens of police officers with a search warrant had showed up at a party on the street, keeping all partygoers in the backyard.
“The fence was closed in and everyone was stuck there,” Kaplan said. “The girl said everyone was divided into two lines, one with those over 21 and one with those under 21 that were breathalyzed.”
According to the Newark Police Report, 145 underage party attendants were arrested—including three under the age of 18—on Continental Avenue on Saturday, Oct. 25.
The party was infiltrated by 28 Newark police officers, university police and the Delaware Division of Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) as part of the Underage Drinking Enforcement Operation, Newark police spokesperson Lt. Mark Farrall said.
The operation consisted of identifying parties where alcohol is being served to minors and if it is determined this is the case at a certain location, the officers will execute a search warrant and conduct the search, Farrall said.
Alpha Beta chapter of Kappa Delta Rho suspended
On the same day, a party hosted by members of the university chapter of Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) was raided by police officers with similar circumstances. It is unclear if the two incidents are related.
Following that incident, the chapter was temporarily suspended by the National Fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho. The chapter is not allowed to sponsor nor participate in on campus events, according to an email sent out by Valerie Yancy, a coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life.
“If your chapter has an upcoming event of co-sponsorship with Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity, you will need to postpone the event and revise your marketing materials to reflect this change,” Yancy said in the email.
KDR President junior Michael Rivera and a representative from the National Fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho both declined to comment.
Marilyn Prime, director of the University Student Centers, is handling this case and declined to comment while the investigation is ongoing.
“If there is a group affiliated, this group will be held to standards of the code of conduct and will be responded to,” Dean of Students Jose-Luis Riera said.
This response can range from low-level disciplinary sanctions, to educational sanction, to higher levels as it has in situations in the past.
Repercussions of the party
Other charges filed last Saturday are directly for the residents of the home where the party was held. These charges include 145 counts of providing alcohol to minors, two counts of possession of marijuana, three counts of noise violations, three counts of underage consumption of alcohol, three counts of failure to obtain an event permit for a gathering over 150 people and three counts of conspiracy to provide alcohol to minors.
According to a representative of the Alderman’s Court, the 145 counts of providing alcohol to minors could cost the residents $29,000 for this charge alone, not including court fees.
One component the police have become interested in is that the party-goers do not receive sanctions, university Police Chief Patrick Ogden said. When 100 students get cut loose from a house party where alcohol is being served at one time, it really has an effect on the community, he said.
All partygoers who are convicted of underage consumption of alcohol will be charged a $200 fine if they are in state and $250 out of state. Including court fees, it is estimated to cost $387 on average per individual, according to the Alderman’s Court.
All non-student attendants will only receive this charge. However, university students will face administrative sanctions with the school as well, Ogden said.
The University of Delaware Police Department takes all information from criminal charges and forwards it to student conduct. Students will have to go to the Office of Student Conduct and could face an additional administrative charge, Ogden said.
Student Conduct has not yet received any charges, but if the police levy charges under the code of conduct, it will be sent to the Office of Student Conduct, Riera said.
Riera said charges are situational and based on a number of things including their involvement, the severity of the situation and disciplinary history.
A typical penalty for a first time underage situation is a $100 administrative fee combined with a low-level disciplinary sanction and education sanction, Riera said. These charges go to educational programs such as alcohol awareness classes.
Education, not punishment
The Newark Police Department and university police teamed up last year for the Joint Alcohol Agency Initiative, promoting education in order to reduce the number of underage and excessive drinking incidents on and off campus.
“From a university perspective, when you have incidents like this, we’re more geared towards education than punishment,” Ogden said.
A program that has come out of the initiative is “Newark Nightlife Partnership.” Within the partnership, the police train local bars, restaurants and liquor stores to look for fake IDs, partnering with the State Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement.
The operation that occurred last Saturday was not officially part of the initiative and did not predetermine specific houses to investigate, though there was a plan in place to look for parties serving alcohol to minors, Farrall said.
“There was no intent to target this location prior to this day but these officers were in place in the event that a large party was identified and if during that party investigation that alcohol was being provided to minors,” Farrall said. “It was a pre-planned operation not only to identify those under 21 consuming but targeting those who were providing.”
For this party, the officers executed a search warrant specifically to investigate the consumption of alcohol by minors. With that, the officers were able to enter the property, even if no one answered the door, Farrall said.
Cracking down to protect students
Fifteen students were transported to the hospital for alcohol overdoses on Homecoming Weekend, according to Ogden.
“We don’t want to ruin students good times but we need to be responsible at the same time and send a clear message that providing people with alcohol underage is not what we want them to be involved in,” he said.
A tip for those hosting parties that become too large and uncontrollable is to call the police to help break it up. Similar to the medical amnesty law, if the party hosts reach out to the police to help break up the situation, the hosts will not be arrested or held responsible, Farrall said.
Ogden said the intentions of the police are not to arrest the problem away.
“When you look at it from a college student’s perspective, its easy to say, ‘there is no problem, we’re in college’ but from the police’s perspective, it’s a problem considering the health and safety risks associated with binge drinking” he said.
After evaluating the operation, it will be decided if it will be carried out more regularly, Farrall said.
“This isn’t going to happen every weekend, but at the same time we want people who are thinking about hosting a party to this magnitude to keep this in the back in their minds,” Ogden said.